Young, gifted and black
Entrepreneur is jack of many trades
“TO be young, gifted and black.” So goes American black consciousness diva Nina Simone’s great song.
Entrepreneur Thabang Mlangeni fits the bill. He is a businessman, motivational speaker, MC, radio presenter, mentor and a co-founder and managing director of Lillian M and Associates, a consulting company.
Mlangeni (22) started his consultancy business in 2007.
He first opened a house garbage bin washing business, called Zola Bin Wash, in Soweto, where he grew up.
The venture entailed cleaning 180 bins every week. He charged R20 a month for his services. He also mowed neighbours’ lawns.
Mlangeni and his two elder siblings were raised by his mother, Lillian.
“I was at high school and did my ‘ piece jobs’ on Tuesdays.
“I bought my school uniform and clothes myself, and helped put food on the table.
“The situation in which we found ourselves moved me to become a better person. I had a dream,” says Mlangeni.
“A miracle happened in the Joburg city centre when I befriended Tony in 2010. It’s a pity I forgot his surname. He introduced me to selling cleaning chemicals door-to-door. I had just finished matric. ”
Mlangeni enrolled to study public relations, but had to drop out because he could not afford the fees. He got a part-time job as a barman at a famous eatery.
His desire to become an entrepreneur did not diminish, and with four friends, registered MZA-Code Enterprise Development, which specialised in staging career expos.
“One expo that we showcased in Limpopo led to us parting ways – after a nasty squabble over the R80 000 government tender to stage the expo in 2012.
“I was on my own, so I established MZA-BEE Consulting because I wanted to do career guidance and mentoring to budding entrepreneurs.”
Last year, when Mlangeni’s mother died, the third-year Unisa marketing and business management student changed the MZA-BEE name to Lillian M and Associates, naming and dedicating his measure of success to the woman who raised him.
The company employs three bookkeepers and a marketer, specialising in booking, personal and company tax.
To date, Mlangeni has assisted 12 entrepreneurs to make their start-up businesses profitable.